Alevi spiritual leader arrested on coup charges


An Alevi spiritual leader has been arrested by an İstanbul court over his alleged links to Turkey’s Gülen group, which the Turkish government accuses of masterminding a coup attempt on July 15, 2016. has learned that, Süleyman Alan was detained by police on May 24 and arrested by an İstanbul court later the same day. He was later transfered to a prison in Kırklareli Province in Eastern Thrace, on the European part of Turkey.

Alan is a “dede,” a socio-religious leader in the islamic Alevi community. The institution of dede the most important of all the institutions integral to the social and religious organization of the Anatolian Alevis.

Although exact figures do not exist, Aleviisim’s approximately 20 million adherents constitute the second-largest religious community in Turkey, after Sunni Muslims.

Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15 that killed over 240 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch, the government along with President Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen group. The movement strongly denies any involvement.

According to a report by the state-run Anadolu news agency on May 28, 154,694 individuals have been detained and 50,136 have been jailed due to alleged Gülen links since the failed coup attempt.

There is a tension between the Alevi and Sunni communities in Turkey and it dates back to Ottoman times. In 1511, the Ottoman army brutally suppressed a revolt by the Kızılbaş Turkmens of the Alevi faith on Anatolian soil, and as many as 40,000 were killed.

The Battle of Çaldıran, fought between the Ottoman Empire under Yavuz Sultan Selim and Safavid Shah Ismail in 1514, resulted in the sultan issuing an edict to kill all the Kızılbaş in the region.

During the Turkish republican era, hundreds of Alevis were killed in pogroms, which many now believe were masterminded by groups inside the state, in the cities of Çorum, Yozgat and Kahramanmaraş in the 1970s. Thirty-four Alevi intellectuals were burned to death in 1992 inside the Madımak Hotel in Sivas. In other incidents, such as in İstanbul’s predominantly Alevi Gazi neighborhood in 1995, Alevis were targeted by individuals armed with machine guns.


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